Commissioner Hahn on Catalonia's EU membership: “the question can be resolved in a more relaxed way”

October 8, 2013 10:50 PM | ACN

In an interview with the Catalan News Agency, the European Commissioner for Regional Policy, the Austrian Johannes Hahn, nuanced previous statements made by other Commissioners and opened the door to debating Catalonia’s EU membership “in a more relaxed way”. Hahn “rejected” the idea that the Commission “is ignoring Catalonia’s independence movement”; “we are watching it carefully”, he said. On the question of automatic expulsion from the EU in the event of becoming independent, the Commissioner emphasised that “of course there is no provision in the Treaty and that’s why legal experts have the opinion that then Catalonia should ask for membership”. However he immediately added that “we should resolve this issue in a more relaxed way”, since “if there is independence, it would not happen from one day to the next”.

Barcelona-based CaixaBank sells €1 billion in 3.5 year-bonds at a 2.5%

October 7, 2013 10:24 PM | ACN

In addition, CaixaBank declares that “it will take all the opportunities” to grow in the Spanish market. The Catalan CaixaBank, which is Spain’s main retail bank, has sold €1 billion in 3.5 year bonds, after a market demand of €2.8 billion. In fact, the large demand made the issue price drop from 180 to 170 basic points on ‘midswap’, which is the reference index for this sort of corporate bonds. The issue interest was set at 2.5% and the issue cost represents 18.5 basic points over the Spanish Treasury Debt’s price. The new issue by CaixaBank is part of the bank’s financial plan for 2013, which aims to strengthen CaixaBank’s liquidity, set to reach 64.604 billion by 30th June.

FC Barcelona’s budget for 2013/14 to be 509 million euros

September 17, 2013 07:14 PM | ACN

The Spokesperson for FC Barcelona’s Board of Directors, Toni Freixa, emphasised that there will be a predicted surplus of 36 million euros after taxes for this season. Freixa explained that the additional income had come from sponsorship deals, as well as the transfer of Thiago Alcántara to Bayern Munich. That’s the first time in FC Barcelona history that the budget has been over 500 million, while operating income for last season was 491 million euros, €21 million more than originally budgeted.

Catalan Sabadell Bank approves a capital increase of €1.4 billion

September 10, 2013 07:53 PM | ACN

The Board of Directors of Catalonia-based Banc Sabadell has approved a capital increase operation of €1.4 billion. The transaction will take place in the form of two consecutive increases in order to “strengthen capital and allow new important shareholders to join the bank aiming [to reinforce] the future internationalisation process of the bank”. The decision by Sabadell, Spain’s fifth largest bank, to carry out this operation was taken after finding out about the “growing interest” of international investors to acquire stable assets of the Catalan financial entity. It is expected that at least €1.33 billion will be attracted, which will subsequently make Banc Sabadell to one of the best capitalised banks in Europe with a core capital beyond 11%.

1,060 companies moved from Catalonia to Madrid for tax reasons since 2010, according to Madrid’s Government

August 19, 2013 10:13 PM | ACN

In the last three years, 1,060 companies have moved their headquarters from Catalonia to the region of Madrid, according to a report published by Madrid’s regional Government. The report states that most of them took the decision because of the lower taxes that exist in Spain’s capital, compared to other areas such as Catalonia. Since 2010, 5,000 companies based in the rest of Spain decided to move to Madrid; 21.4% of them were from Catalonia. Paradoxically, 43 cents out of every euro paid in taxes in Catalonia is to pay for investments and services made in other parts of Spain, which turns into an annual fiscal deficit of 8.5% of Catalonia’s GDP, meaning that Catalans are obliged by the Spanish Government to give away €16.5 billion. Meanwhile, the Catalan Government is under-budgeted and obliged to implement severe budget cuts and raise taxes to balance the budget.

The Catalan Government to launch a Christmas lottery to increase public revenue

August 8, 2013 09:28 PM | ACN

Since 1986, the Catalan Government has its own lottery system, which brought a profit of €40 million last year. The Catalan lottery administration dedicates 60% of the revenue to prizes and the remaining 40% to finance public policies. In total, there are six lottery games, including scratch cards and lotto draws, but there are no specific draws for special days, as exists in the Spanish Government’s Christmas Lottery. After a proposal from representatives of shopkeepers’ associations, the Catalan Executive decided to launch a similar Christmas draw, with tickets worth 5 euros. 80% of the revenue will go towards prizes and 20% will finance children’s assistance programmes. €15 million will be put on sale. The opposition has been surprised by the initiative and stated they were hoping it was not the only measure to increase revenue.

The Catalan Government extends the 2012 budget for the whole of 2013 due to the low deficit target

August 6, 2013 09:27 PM | ACN

The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, officially announced on Tuesday that last year’s budget will be extended for the whole of 2013, since the 1.58% deficit target imposed by the Spanish Executive is too low and arrives too late. However, he explained that the budget extension guidelines will meet the 1.58% deficit target, because otherwise they would not have the money to pay for the additional spending. Furthermore, Mas announced they will take the “unfair and illegal split” of the deficit targets among the different government levels to court, since they consider the Spanish Government has not done it “in a proportional way”, since it keeps most of the deficit allowed for Spain’s total public sector for itself. Some opposition parties have strongly criticised the Catalan Government for extending the budget.

The Spanish Government imposes a 1.58% deficit target for Catalonia and €2.6 billion of further budget cuts

July 31, 2013 11:38 PM | ACN

The Catalan Finance Minister, Andreu Mas-Colell, accuses the Spanish Government of “asphyxiating” the Autonomous Communities. The 1.58% deficit target imposed to the Catalan Government represents €2.6 billion of further budget adjustment compared to last year’s budget, which ended with a 1.96% deficit. Mas-Colell denounced that the Spanish Executive is “keeping for itself the greatest share of the deficit pie”, while it is only responsible for 50% of Spain’s public spending. The Spanish Government is setting itself a deficit target of 5.2% for 2013 and most of the flexibility allowed by the European Union, which authorised a 6.5% deficit for Spain’s total public sector. Meanwhile, the Autonomous Communities have a deficit target 4 times stricter, although they manage 36% of Spain’s total public spending as well as basic services such as healthcare and education.

Barcelona-based CaixaBank earns €408 million in the first half of 2013, 146% more than last year

July 26, 2013 10:22 PM | ACN

The Catalan bank, which is the highest financial entity within the Spanish market, obtained a net profit of €408 million between January and June. This figure is 2.45 times higher than that of last year for the same period thanks to the integration of Banca Cívica and Banc de València. The bank which is owned by La Caixa and chaired by Isidre Fainé increased its reserves to €5.38 billion, a rise of 44% on last year. In the presentation of the results, CaixaBank’s CEO, Joan Maria Nin, confirmed the Catalan banking giant will “have a look” at the conditions of the auctions of Catalunya Banc and Nova Caixa Galicia. Nin also recognised that the funding system for SMEs in Spain can be significantly “improved”.

Barcelona-based CaixaBank is considered the world's best bank in technological innovation

July 13, 2013 01:22 AM | CNA

The British financial magazine ‘Euromoney’ has named the Catalan CaixaBank the world’s best bank in a technological innovation ranking. Furthermore, the publication considered CaixaBank to be the best Spanish bank for the second consecutive year. The Catalan entity is the largest bank within the Spanish market, ahead of the two world giants Santander and BBVA. Furthermore, CaixaBank leads online banking in Spain with 8.8 million clients.

Catalonia is the 3rd Autonomous Community paying the most and the 10th in amount of funds received from the Spanish Government

July 11, 2013 01:28 AM | CNA

The Catalan Executive has published the liquidation of Spain’s fiscal redistribution scheme of 2011. That year, Catalonia was the 3rd Autonomous Community paying the most taxes per citizen in Spain, with a 119.1% rate if the average were 100%. However, after the Spanish Government’s redistribution of money through services and investments, Catalonia was the 10th territory in spending per capita, with a 99.4% rate, below the average. In 2011, Catalonia received €16.91 billion, 3% less than in 2010. The region of Madrid was the Autonomous Community paying the most, since Spanish Government bodies and many multinational companies are based there. It was followed by the Balearic Islands, which received 12.3 million tourists while its population is just 1.1 million.

"Who the heck is funding whom? It's Catalonia that funds Spain" Mas answered Montoro

July 10, 2013 11:16 PM | CNA

On Tuesday, the Spanish Finance Minister, Cristóbal Montoro, stated before the Senate that the Spanish Government “was financing the services” the Catalan Executive provides. In an angry and agitated tone, Montoro concluded the intervention shouting “Do you understand?! Don’t you understand?!” to the Catalan Senator who had asked him about the recentralisation of power. The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, answered the Spanish Finance Minister in a calm but angry tone: “the Catalan Executive finances public services thanks to the effort Catalan citizens make each day by producing, working and paying taxes. And from all the taxes paid by Catalan citizens, a large amount, as much as €16 billion leaves Catalonia and never comes back [after the Spanish Government’s redistribution]. Who the heck is funding whom? It’s Catalonia that funds the Spanish State from many points of view”.

The Catalan Government sells 13 buildings to AXA Real Estate for €172 million to reduce public deficit

June 26, 2013 01:15 AM | CNA

The Catalan Government will continue to occupy the facilities as a tenant, annually paying €16.2 million in rent over the next 20 years. The decision to sell Catalan Government properties had been taken to ease the difficult financial situation and obtain liquidity. The initiative is part of the austerity measures adopted to reduce the public deficit and increase revenue. Taking this last sale into account, the Catalan Government will have sold 17 properties for a total of €266 million since 2012. The Catalan Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, emphasised that the revenue generated by these sales will allow the Government to undertake fewer budget cuts.

Leo Messi and his father to be interrogated by the judge next September over alleged fiscal fraud

June 21, 2013 12:49 AM | CNA

Last week Lionel Messi and his father Jorge Horacio Messi were formally accused by the Spanish Public Prosecution Office of having evaded €4 million in taxes regarding his image rights between 2007 and 2009. The judge in charge of the case has decided to indict the FC Barcelona player and his father. She has asked them to come to the court with their lawyers on the 17th of September to be interrogated, in order to decide whether she will formally accuse them or not. Messi’s lawyers issued a press release in which they stated the player’s will to cooperate with the judicial process and added he will pay whatever he is told. However, they also insisted on Messi’s innocence, emphasising they “are sure” he has already honoured his fiscal obligations. In addition, the Argentinean player released a statement last week fully denying the accusations.